Earlier this year, I promised I’d explore different types of animal training and because most of you have issues with your canines, dog training in particular. The subject this week is a technique that has been gaining nationwide popularity in the last several years.
But first, can you tell me what these animals have in common? Tasmanian rats that save lives by sniffing out land mines; dolphins that help the U.S. Navy recover equipment; and the large cats at your local zoo that willingly back up to the side of a cage to receive a painful injection.
The obvious answer is training, but what kind of training works for rodents, marine life and large predators alike?
Obviously, most traditional aversion techniques won’t work. Divert a panther’s attention with force and see where it gets you, said Chris Lantzer, owner of Woof Wise Dog Training in Richfield.
Lantzer, who specializes in reward-based, or positive reinforcement training, has earned her professional dog trainer-knowledge assessed certification. She has been a dog trainer for a decade, opening Woof Wise three years ago.
“Traditional behavior works because it is punishing and suppresses behavior. It can very quickly stop a behavior but it doesn’t teach a dog what it should be doing,” said Lantzer at her Brecksville Road training center.
Lantzer teaches a kinder, gentler training method that is even appropriate for children to use with pets.
“Learning is going on on both ends of the leash,” she said. And with reward-based training, you can easily teach and trust children to participate in the training.
“We don’t want to teach children to get what they want through coercion. We want to teach them to treat everyone with respect, cooperation and patience,” she said.
Lantzer is currently training a 2-year-old Maltalier, a Cavalier King Charles/Maltese mix “designer” dog also known as a Cavamalt, to perform as Sandy in the Revere High School Players production of Annie April 17-21. Molly is owned by Beth Akins of Copley, who agrees with Lantzer. Her three children, ages 9, 7 and 5, are participating in the training.
“My kids have total respect for every living thing,” she said.
Molly quickly learned to respond to her stage name and last week was learning to sit quietly on stage while cast members sing and dance around her. She will take turns sharing the role with Australian shepherd/schipperke Ace, owned by Bella Pignataro of Richfield, and also a Woof Wise graduate.
Lantzer, whose background includes a 15-year stint in human resources, said she combined her love of dogs and teaching to specialize in the reward-based training that uses a clicker to tell an animal it is doing what you want it to do.
“Teach your priorities. It’s really about mental cooperation as opposed to physical coercion,” she said.
Get the behavior you want, make the click sound to inform the animal it got it right, then reward the dog with a treat to reinforce the behavior. Eventually, the treats are phased out, as they are in aversion training.
Sounds easy, right?
“Next, we are going to try to get her to bow,” Lantzer said with a chuckle.
Lantzer said she got interested in dog training when she adopted her first rescue dog, a mixed-breed dog she named Pumpkin.
“He went through drywall trying to escape and ripped up the floor,” she said.
Today, Pumpkin, who is Lantzer’s in-studio model for demonstrations, owns several obedience titles and is ranked nationally for rally/obedience.
“When you make that connection with your animals it is an amazing thing and one of the gifts I’d like to give my clients,” she said.
Lantzer recommends starting puppies out on the right foot between eight to 10 weeks of age to socialize them and give them confidence. Dogs progress to classes for basic obedience, advanced obedience, agility, games and tricks as well as Good Canine Citizen classes.
Spring sessions begin April 27-May 5 and run for six weeks. To learn more about Woof Wise techniques or register for classes, contact Lantzer at email@example.com.
Other animals in the news:
Portage Animal Protective League Spring Fling — “It’s Raining Cats and Dogs!” 5-8 p.m. April 20, American Legion Hall, 1945 Mogadore Road, Kent. Raise funds to help abused, abandoned and injured animals with a dinner and auction with items including a Lake Erie Charter fishing trip for six, Kent football items and Akron Zips tickets.
Tickets are $65 and can be reserved by calling 330-296-4022. For more information, visit www.portageapl.org.
Wild Ride at the Zoo — Ride your bike through the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo from 5:30-8:30 p.m. May 4 and Aug. 16 after the park closes to regular visitors. Maps will point out routes for beginning, intermediate and experienced riders.
Tickets are $12, with a $2 discount for Cleveland Zoological Society members. A signed release form will be required and a helmet is strongly recommended. Advance tickets are available at www.clemetzoo.com along with printable release forms. Riders under the age of 18 must have a parent or legal guardian sign and deliver the waiver. The event will be held rain or shine.
Pawsibilities, Humane Society of Greater Akron Rummage Sale — 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 19-20 at Stow-Kent Shopping Plaza, 4301 Kent Road in Stow.
Bark in the Park — Pawsibilities, Humane Society of Greater Akron pledge walk and pet expo, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 11 at Springfield Lake Park, 2459 Canfield Road, Springfield Township. One-mile walk with your pet; proceeds help animals that are victims of cruelty, neglect, illness or injury, and provide adoption services, education and outreach programs.
Registration begins at 11 a.m. for the noon walk. Visit www.summithumane.org.
Kathy Antoniotti writes about pets for the Akron Beacon Journal. She is unable to help locate, place or provide medical attention for an individual animal. If you have an idea or question about pets, write her at the Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309-0640; call 330-996-3565; or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.